Handheld mobile telephone use among Melbourne drivers

18 Oct 2007

Use of handheld mobile phones ('mobiles') can impair driving performance, as measured by reaction time and situational awareness, and mobile use is associated with a fourfold increase in crash risk. The current ban on handheld mobile use by drivers in Victoria dates from 1999. In 2005, the Victorian Road Safety Committee made recommendations proposing increased penalties for offences, supported by a subsequent education and enforcement campaign. The government planned to review the infringement penalty ($145 fine and three demerit points against the driver’s licence) towards the end of 2006. The report concludes that the number of drivers at risk from handheld mobile phone use remains almost unchanged. However, a slight reduction in the rate of use overall and variations in use among driver subgroups are apparent. Policing and public awareness campaigns need to further address this preventable risk of injury.

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